A petrol station is damaged as a result of the overnight Russian attack on Kharkiv, northeastern Ukraine. -/Ukrinform/dpa

A petrol station is damaged as a result of the overnight Russian attack on Kharkiv, northeastern Ukraine. -/Ukrinform/dpa

DPA: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has ruled out the Russians taking the north-eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv amid rumours of an imminent Russian offensive against the city.

"Kharkiv is protected today," Zelensky said in an interview broadcast on television on Saturday.

He admitted that the city was still vulnerable to airstrikes, but stressed that he was absolutely confident in the defence of the area on the ground.

According to the Ukrainian president, the fortifications built by Ukraine are largely complete not only in Kharkiv, but also in large parts of the frontline and border areas.

Citing intelligence information, Zelensky claimed that Russia was planning a further mobilisation of 300,000 troops on June 1 in order to continue the offensive it began in autumn.

So far, Moscow has officially denied plans for a further wave of mobilization.

However, when Russia's President Vladimir Putin ordered the war against the neighbouring country, he also assured his compatriots that only volunteers and professional soldiers would be sent to the war, which Moscow insists on calling only a "special military operation."

After a series of defeats, Putin then announced a partial mobilization of 300,000 reservists in the autumn of 2022, who were sent to the front in Ukraine.

According to Zelensky, Ukraine needs a total of 25 Patriot air defence systems to protect its airspace against Russian missile and drone attacks.

Zelensky said in an interview broadcast on television on Saturday that 25 systems, each with 6 to 8 batteries, are needed to seal off the airspace.

"All our partners know this very well, they even know the points where the corresponding systems should be placed." He also said that Patriots and analogue Western air defence systems - including the German Iris-T - have proven their worth.

In the fighting, further Russian drone and missile attacks killed at least six civilians in Kharkiv and injured others overnight, local officials said on Saturday.

Oleh Syniehubov, the military governor of Kharkiv, said on his Telegram channel on Saturday that 11 others were injured in the attacks.

Russia struck the city with converted S-300 anti-aircraft missiles, which damaged nine residential buildings, dormitories, an administrative building, a kindergarten, a café, a car wash and a petrol station, as well as several vehicles, he said.

Russia fired a total of 32 combat drones and six missiles of various types at Ukraine during the night, Kiev said. The Ukrainian Air Force said 28 drones and half of the missiles were intercepted.

In addition to Kharkiv, strikes were also reported in the Kherson and Zaporizhzhya regions, where a farm and an industrial plant were hit. No casualties or major damage were reported.

Russia has been waging a full-scale against Ukraine for more than two years, with Russian forces regularly launching strikes on Ukrainian cities well behind the front lines, killing civilians and destroying vital infrastructure.

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